Matthew 4:1-11

Commentary Excerpt by Tom Boomershine

The verbal threads in this story are also easy to identify. "If you are the Son of God" is the first phrase of the first two statements of Satan to Jesus and Jesus' first and second responses are "it is written." This phrase is the introduction to the first two of Jesus' speeches; in the third the intro is "Away with you, Satan, for it is written." "It is written"is then a major verbal thread that occurs in the last sentence of each of the three temptation episodes.

The first two speeches of the tempter begin with the phrase "if you're the Son of God;"the last one is simply "All these I will give you, if you will fall down and worship me."The implication is that the tempter gives up on the Son of God question. Another dynamic created by these verbal threads occurs in the second response of the devil. In response to Jesus’ statement, “It is written” followed by a quotation from Deuteronomy,the tempter also says "it is written," and quotes scripture to Jesus. When that doesn't work, he quickly gives up the quotation of Scripture and says "All these I will give you, if you will fall down and worship me." These may be helpful connections for remembering this story.

A basic characteristic of this story is that this is all happening in Jesus’ mind and spirit.The entire story is an “inside view” of what is happening in Jesus’ meditations in the wilderness. It is important to convey this meditative character of the story in the manner in which you tell it. It might be told sitting in a lotus position or in a chair meditating.Another possibility is to tell the introductory and concluding episodes standing and to sit for the three episodes of the temptations. You will find the best way of telling the story by experimenting with different possibilities in the space in which you are going to tell the story.

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